Have you got a Travel Bucket List? I have!
The only thing standing in my way to ticking off ALL the places on my list is the fact that I have 2 kids, school fees, a house renovation, a limited bank account and limited school holidays in which to travel… Oh dear!
So you can imagine my excitement when I recently got the opportunity to travel, internationally, to one of the top places on my African Travel Bucket List…
Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is one of those iconic travel images you see in photos or on film and hanker for. There’s a raw, majestic, wild beauty about it that tugs on your traveller’s heart.
To see the largest sheet of falling water with my own eyes was something I had hoped I would be able to do at least once in my lifetime, but I was never quite sure how I would be able to afford travel into Africa… and then I was given the chance, thanks to a new low cost flight to Vic Falls offered by fastjet!
fastjet is Africa’s new affordable airline who started flying the Joburg – Victoria Falls route on Thursdays and Sundays back in March this year. We travelled with the airline to Dar es Salaam previously and, once again, our experience with the airline was excellent. I’d definitely recommend fastjet for affordable travel around eastern and southern Africa.
A 2 hour flight to Joburg from Cape Town, plus a couple of idle hours between flights, and then we were ready to hop aboard the fastjet Airbus A319 at OR Tambo airport. After a short flying time of 1 hour 35 minutes, during which I managed to catch my first glimpse of the “Smoke that Thunders” from the sky, we landed at the recently upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport and set off in our hotel transfer to catch our first glimpse of this popular holiday town and amazing adventure destination…
A 3 day romantic long weekend in Africa. Without the kids. We couldn’t have been more excited!
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
After a 30 min transfer through the African bush and the small tourist town of Victoria Falls, we arrived at our hotel… Elephant Hills Resort and checked in.
Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls
Set in lush gardens, where wild animals such as warthog roam free, Elephant Hills lies on a small hill overlooking the Zambezi River. Home to the only golf course in Victoria Falls and offering ample conferencing facilities, the best aspect of the hotel for me was the view! From every window in the bar area and dining room, Africa stretched before us.
And when we got to our bedroom we could even see the “smoke” of the mighty falls 4km downstream from our balcony.
After a day of travel there was only one thing on our minds… food and drink! And to celebrate our arrival on the banks of the Zambezi, we cracked open a bottle the local Zambezi beer and sat down to chat to some of the friendly locals and plan our itinerary for our 3 day stay…
After an informal dinner in the dining room, it was time for bed… lulled to sleep by the vibrations on the window of the Falls in the distance.
As our room faced east, we decided to set our alarm clocks to wake us early enough to watch the sunrise over the savanna. Now, normally, I’m quite happy to sleep in – on holiday or at home – but here was something special that I didn’t want to miss. And I’m so glad I found myself up with the birds as the sky turned all manner of colours and the sun rose to greet us…
The quiet of the morning and the darkened pre-dawn sky also gave us the perfect opportunity to see the permanent cloud of water vapour that sits over the falls…. it’s own little rain cloud which we were to walk through ourselves later in the day!
Once we’d breakfast in the warm morning light, it was time to head off to our first day of exploring Victoria Falls. Our first priority? The Falls themselves, of course!
Shearwater, a well-established tour operator in the Victoria Falls area, collected us along with a few other travellers for our Guided Tour of the Victoria Falls, and after a brief stop at the African curio market, we found ourselves at the entrance to falls, donning our poncho’s and listening to the knowledgeable guide explain more about it’s history above the thunderous roar of our destination.
Victoria Falls National Park
Our first glimpse of the mighty falls was through the trees. And then, just around the corner, the awe-inspiring sight…
White foamy water cascaded over the edge of the falls and billowed into the air, spraying us with it’s power! It surely was a sight to behold. I was blown away by the size of the chasm created by the cracked earth, the sheer volume of water plummeting at speed over the edge and the way all this made me feel very small…
We walked along to the various viewing points along the path, through the rain-soaked forest, met along the way by various wildlife like baboon and antelope. Stopping for the occasional picture and then hurriedly packing my camera away so as to avoid it getting soaked by spray or damaged by the humidity in the air….
At one point I gave up completely and packed it away for good in my camera bag. I’d bravely tried to cover it with a makeshift plastic packet, but the spray got too much… most of my photos of the falls are from the first few viewpoints. After a while all I could photograph was one big, white cloud, so heavy was the spray!
And we totally found out why we needed poncho’s….
Pity the poor member of our party who declined one! Yes, we looked ridiculous and were winning NO prizes for fashion… but our measly rain jackets were just that – measly.
At some points we had to run, fast, through the most crazy downpours of heavy rain drops – bizarre when just a few metres away the sun was shining in all it’s blazing glory!
Even WITH the poncho on I came out half soaked and had squelchy toes for the rest of the day!!
What a sight! Hard to capture on camera really… but I tried!
Can you believe that some crazy folk choose to visit the pools located at the top of the drop! Devil’s and Angel’s Pools at Victoria Falls are only for the brave hearted (and I’m certainly not one of them!)
After our run in the rain we came to the final viewpoint… of the Victoria Falls bridge… and just in time to see someone take a bungy jump off the bridge!
I’d been offered the opportunity to bungy and weighed it up over and over again. I finally decided that it was probably a step too far for a height-fearing mom of 2! And, after seeing this, I think I made the right choice.
After our tour of the Victoria Falls National Park, we decided to take a trip to Zambia! All that meant was a quick walk across the Victoria Falls bridge. I wanted to get a closer look at the bungy and to say we’d step foot in another country too! The braver amongst you might be keen to visit the other side of the falls in order to take a dip in Devils Pool. We weren’t so brave!!
That meant joining the queue at immigration, along with all the locals and truck drivers ferrying their good across the border. And the experience was actually so much simpler than I thought! In fact, I’m inspired to cross a few more African borders now. We’d heard so many stories about nightmare border crossings, but this was none of those. OK, they’re obviously used to dealing with tourists, so it’s probably one of the milder borders, but I was pleasantly surprised about how easy it was.
And then we walked. About 1km to the centre of the bridge and a little bit beyond… and back again.
Taking in the view on both sides and from above! we realised just how high it was off the ground! I was pretty glad I made that call about the bungy…
After our sojourn into Zambia (not really, we didn’t get our passports stamped on the otherside), we headed back to Zimbabwe and decided it was time for some refreshments. Following some rather hazy directions we headed off down a bush path just before the curio shops to find The Lookout Cafe.
The path led us through the real African bush, heat was rising off the red earth and we had to dodge elephant dung on the path. Granted it was only a few hundred metres before we spotted civilisation ahead, but it felt wild! And adventurous. And a little slice of African heaven.
And then we spotted our intended destination and headed into the cool shade of their deck. Overlooking the Zambezi gorge and various Victoria Falls adventure activities, like the bridge swing, zipline and flying fox, this was the ideal place to enjoy a milkshake and beer!
After our brief break, we opted to continue down the dusty path in search of another recommended view point of the falls. The historic Victoria Falls Hotel which offered a spectacular view of the bridge from it’s colonial gardens.
Just a few hours and we’d accomplished so much! It was time to meet our free Elephant Hills shuttle at the Victoria Falls National Park drop off and head back to our hotel. A burger and a nap were needed before our incredible day of Bucket List firsts continued with an epic Zambezi Sunset River Cruise…
Planning a visit to Victoria Falls?
Here are a few more of our amazing African adventure!
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Contact Elephant Hills Resort Hotel
Contact Shearwater Adventures
Tel: + 263 (0) 773 461716
Email: [email protected]
We enjoyed our stay courtesy of FastJet, Elephant Hills Resort and Shearwater Victoria Falls. Flights, accommodation and some activities were sponsored but all thoughts, opinions and photos are my own.
Disclosure: 1; 8